Want to build a D&D character to remember?
Of course you do. I’ll show you how!
Building a Dungeons & Dragons character is one of the most exciting parts of playing the game. It’s a chance to create a unique persona, explore new worlds, and embark on epic adventures with a group of friends.
I’ve made quite a few characters over the years, and I’m going to share with you what I think is the ultimate method for building an awesome D&D character. We’ll cover everything you need to know to create a character that will shine on the battlefield and in the roleplaying aspects of the game.
This article does NOT cover specific rules or how to populate your character sheet. There are tons of resources on that already; this article is an overview of the big-picture process.
So grab your dice and get ready to create life!
Disclaimer: All opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.
Decide if You Want Power, Personality, or Both
In my opinion, the first idea to develop is the type of D&D character you’d like to play.
Making a Superhero
Are you a golden path hero, always finding the best possible mechanics and mathematical solutions on how to build characters and get the MOST damage out of your hits?
Perhaps when playing video games you spend hours reading articles on which classes are the most effective, which stats to boost, and which skills to select. This may mean you have the most fun with a mechanically-tailored character that some players consider overpowered. But that’s okay with you… you take it as a compliment!
It takes a lot of study, dedication, and wit to build characters that are optimally powered and geared without breaking any rules. It’s fair to be proud of that work. Don’t listen to the naysayers that say it’s inferior to a roleplaying build. It’s just a different play style, and neither is inferior to the other.
Making a “Normal” Character
Are you someone who loves mechanically subpar or “broken” characters, and would rather rely on creative solutions or thinking outside the box to solve problems? (I’m right there with you!)
Perhaps you love the idea of having a character who has negative modifiers to stats–especially something that can be hilarious and dramatic like Charisma or Strength. If you are especially excited about the roleplaying aspect of Dungeons & Dragons, this approach could be a great fit for you.
Choose Your Adventure
Maybe you’re somewhere in-between. You are excited about roleplaying and unique solutions, but you also want to be super amazing in combat. You can do that, too! The most important thing here is to have an idea of what sounds the most fun to you.
Talk with Your D&D Group
Once you have an idea of the type of D&D character you want to create, it’s time to chat with the other players in your group. If this isn’t possible though, no big deal.
By chatting with your group, you can get an idea of which roles different players are excited to fill. Maybe everyone wants to fight on the frontlines but no one wants to be a healer. Maybe you’ve got three people who all want to play super squishy characters and they need some defense.
A great time to have this conversation is during your Session 0, if your Dungeon Master is holding one. A lot of groups at least partially create characters in a group setting like this to facilitate these conversations more easily.
A Balanced Party
While an unbalanced group is perfectly fine, a lot of players try to balance the roles at least a little bit to give the party an edge on as many types of encounters as possible.
If this is what you’re looking for, you may want to include at least one tougher, higher hit points person to fight up front (also known as a “tank” in some circles), someone who can heal, someone who can sneak, pick locks, and gather intelligence, and someone who can cast damaging and/or utility spells.
You’ll also want one of these characters to be the “face,” meaning they have a high Charisma score and are good at talking with NPCs (non-player characters).
This is all optional, though. If you everyone wants to be a necromancer wizard, I guarantee you the party will have a blast.
Use the Player Handbook
Next, it’s time to look at your source material. You hopefully have an idea of what type of character you want to play, and the role you’d like to fill. Looking through chapters 2 and 3 of the Dungeons & Dragons Player Handbook (PHB) is the next step.
You need to pick a class. There are tons of really great resources available on selecting what you’ll enjoy the most, but I suggest sticking to the PHB to start.
Once you’ve chosen which class to play, it’s time to think about the specific details of your new character. You’ll need to decide on personality traits, a backstory, mechanical details for how your hero will function, your appearance, and lots of other fun details.
Don’t get overwhelmed with everything. It’s a lot to decide, but it’s supposed to be fun! Enjoy the process and give yourself plenty of time to make decisions. Also, use a pencil or a digital file to start. That way it’s easier to make changes.
Draw on Fictional Characters You Love
Once I have an idea of the type of character, class, and role I want for the game, it’s time to start thinking personality and backstory.
For me, I like to create a character concept and then make the numbers fit my vision. For example, it might be that you love the idea of being an amazing swordsman or incredible with a bow, so you put your stats in Strength or Dexterity, and work from there.
You may prefer to do the opposite, though, and put in the numbers first, fitting the character around the stats. There is no “correct” way.
D&D Character Personality
For creating your D&D character’s personality and story, drawing on fictional characters you love can be a great source of inspiration. Incorporating elements of their personality, backstory, or even fighting style can help bring your character to life.
To help you build your own unique character and keep your groups’ immersion, you may choose to avoid copying these inspirational figures outright. Instead, think about what makes them special. Then, find ways to incorporate those qualities into your own character in an original way. Creating something unique and special to you is part of what makes playing D&D so much fun, so get a little crazy with it.
Personalize Your Accessories
This part is completely optional. If you’re on a tight budget, I’d suggest downloading the free official D&D 5e character sheets found online, and using digital dice if necessary. There’s no need to spend a lot of money on toys for the game in order to play. If you have the resources though, it can be a lot of fun to personalize your kit to your character.
D&D Character Sheets
If you want to keep it standard, download the official character sheets offered by Wizards. They work just fine, and they are free.
If you’d like to check out a custom free option, I will send you a black and white printable version of the “Wild Escapade” character sheet I made just for signing up for the newsletter here at Malice Inn & Tavern. You’ll receive updates when a new post goes live. That’s it! Spammers are fed to the false hydra here at the tavern. (It lurks in the basement from time to time….)
I’m also going to shamelessly promote the 5E character sheets that I have up on my Etsy site, while we’re on the subject. My store is linked on the images below. Each purchase comes with a printable version in both U.S. Letter and A4, and a digital, form-fillable version that works with programs like Adobe Acrobat. Check them out!
And here’s a 10% off code to put in during checkout for you because I like you so much: 10FROMMALICE
I buy new dice a lot, but there are two times when I ALWAYS buy new dice. 1) When I start DMing a new game, and 2) when I make a new character. I like to do this for new characters because I choose dice that fit the personality or aesthetic. It’s fun, and creates another level of immersion for me.
Dark Elf Dice Discount Code!
One of my favorite places to buy dice is Dark Elf Dice. They have an ENORMOUS selection! Also, they run sales all the time, and they are a small business, which I like to support.
If you use the code MALICEINNANDTAVERN when you checkout you’ll get 10% off your order. Pretty nifty!
I’ve gotten a lot of sets from Dark Elf Dice, but my favorite are the Sharp-Edge Inclusion dice. I have Dissonant Scream (pictured on the black and white character sheet above) and Heartbreaker, and they are so beautiful in person! I love them.
Remember… D&D Is Just a Game
Above all, remember that D&D is a game, and it’s supposed to be fun! If you’re finding yourself too stressed out with the process, I suggest you use a premade character. It will help you learn the ropes and you’ll still get to enjoy the game with fewer questions to answer before you get started.
There are tons of these available with a quick Google search. Several are also included in the official Starter Set, which I’ve linked below for you.
I’ve also had players who want to create a character, but don’t want to fuss with a backstory. They hired Fivrr freelancers. They bought prewritten backstories and custom character art, too. It just depends on what is fun for you and what you want to spend your time and money on.
Building an awesome D&D character is all about creativity, imagination, and having fun. The most important aspect of D&D is not about “winning,” but rather about the journey and experiences you share with your fellow players and Dungeon Master. So go ahead and let your imagination run wild, create the ultimate character, and embark on an epic adventure like no other.
Have an awesome D&D character you created and want to share? I’d love to read about it in the comments below.
Thanks for reading this today. If you enjoyed your time here, please consider subscribing to our newsletter. You’ll get a free Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition compatible character sheet inspired by the Druid class to download and print out, and a notification in your inbox when we publish a new article. Spammers are fed to the false hydra!